Kenya is bearing the burden of the climate challenge, one not of its making. Kenyans each year emit about one tonne per person, compared to about 8 tonnes for every European. We are already seeing the impacts of climate change on the Kenyan economy, livelihoods, and crops, as well as water supplies and nature, with scientists warning that worse lies ahead with increased drought very likely.
Considering Kenya has done barely anything to cause climate change it’s great to see it leading the global response. With the release of its climate action commitment towards the Paris agreement today, the country has taken another important step towards addressing the problem.
Kenya has submitted its commitment (Intended Nationally Determined Contribution or INDC) much sooner than many richer countries and it demonstrates just the kind of ambition other such countries should be aiming for. Kenya will reduce its emissions by 30% by 2030 (relative to its Business as Usual scenario of 143 MtCO2eq), keeping the country on a clear clean development path.
Kenya is also committed to doing its part in the international response on climate - the country is investing in renewable energy, including geothermal, wind, solar and hydro energy and is demonstrating African countries do not need to be slaves to fossil fuels as they plot their future development out of poverty. But it will need financial and technological support from richer countries to guarantee it will leapfrog the dirty energy mistakes made by others, and become a low-carbon leader.
The Kenyan INDC shows even poor African countries are doing their bit to help address the climate challenge. We now need to see movement from richer countries in response to this leadership, particularly in the form of shifting investments into clean energy investments and support for developing resilient communities in Africa.